‘Not arrogant, just better.’ This strap-line for the Mungo Park Scout Unit, Preston District, sums up my busy three days in West Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
We squeezed much into my 24 hours in West Lancashire, starting off with a small discussion group covering a range of topics including Scout Network, succession planning, youth involvement and headquarters project teams.
The phrase ‘if we don’t know what we are selling, how can we sell it?’, raised in a discussion about what we offer 18-25 year olds, really stood out for me. Ideas for our unique selling points included helping employability and international opportunities.
Learning from our heritage
While at Waddecar Activity Centre I was lucky enough to be given a tour of their Scouting and Guiding museum by founder Michael Loomas and his brother Ron. I was particularly struck by their passion in bringing history to life, especially for younger members. I witnessed this first hand as the four cubs with me were enthralled by their experience.
I visited Waddecar to join the Preston District for their Preston Guild Camp, and I was joined by three Explorer Scouts from Mungo Park Scout Unit. Jess, George and Dan showed me around the site and introduced me to the wide variety of activities. They also challenged me to a go-kart race and although modesty prevents me from mentioning the result, the photograph says it all!
It is also great to see that more Beaver Scouts are joining District and County events to sleep over for one of the nights, and Preston Guild was no exception. I also took the opportunity to meet separately with the Group Scout Leaders.
South Ribble District
After a lunch for local key influencers it was off to South Ribble District to join 90 of their leaders who had gathered for a Skills and Chills weekend. Here we combined the learning of new skills, crafts and other training with some social time.
After an encounter with an owl (it’s a long story but one of the activities being exhibited was falconry) I joined almost all 24 of the District’s Group Scout Leaders plus members of the District team for an interesting Q&A session on the key issues they are facing.
After dinner with the leaders of South Ribble, we travelled to Fylde District for a quick tour of their new District headquarters and hostel (these are being rebuilt following two arson attacks).
We then joined 24 Scouts and Explorer Scouts to present their Chief Scout’s Gold Awards. We also took the opportunity to use their new indoor climbing wall.
An early morning drive got me to the Yorkshire Event Showground near Harrogate to join 5,300 members from West Yorkshire for their Big Camp. After that, having had great fun touring the site, doing various interviews and speaking with a large number of key influencers, I drove further south to Southwell Racecourse.
Here, the Nottinghamshire Scouts were enjoying their Big Weekend, another county event for over 3,000 young people and adults. A record attempt for the most people eating breakfast at the same time and place was also held.
Over the weekend the young people had hundreds of activities to try out and skills to learn. I was struck by the amount of work that had gone in to the weekend activities so early in May.
It was also clear that those sections and groups attending appeared to have a high percentage of young people in attendance. Perhaps this weekend, away from the traditional holiday periods, was particularly successful as a result. We will have to wait until next year to find out.